So You Want to be an Entrepreneur?

If you think of yourself as an entrepreneur, small business owner or even a key employee who cares about the growth of the company you work for, you should be reading Seth Godin. Like, I mean everything you can get your hands on. Read his books, his blog, his interviews and watch his Ted talks like this one. 

Godin has a ton of real world, right now, business stuff figured out and he has a special gift of being able to tell you about it in a very few words.

This is a recent blog of Godin’s. If you will take the time to honestly and thoughtfully answer the questions he asks in this 313 word essay you will gain more insight into your new business venture than if you read any 3 of the best  “How to Start and Run Your New Business” books.

Questions for a new entrepreneur

A few things came up over coffee the other day. His idea is good, his funding is solid; there are many choices. Some of the questions that don’t usually get asked:

Are you aware of your cash flow? The thing about a fish in the stream is that it doesn’t care if the water is six inches deep or a foot deep. As long as it never (ever) goes to zero; it’s fine. What’s your zero point? What are you doing to ensure you get to keep on swimming?

Are you trying to build profit or equity? A business that builds a brand, a footprint, a standard and an audience might end up being worth millions (witness Tumblr, which has many millions in value but zero profitability). On the other hand, a business with no exit value at all might spin off plenty of profit (consider the local doctor’s office). It would be great if you could simultaneously maximize both the value of your company and the profit it produces (in the short run) – but that’s unlikely.

What’s your role? Do you want to be a freelancer, an entrepreneur or a business owner? A business owner is the boss, but it’s a job, a place that is stable and profitable. An entrepreneur is an artist of sorts, throwing herself into impossible situations and seeking out problems that require heart and guts to solve. Both are fine, but choose.

Are you trying to build a team? Some business owners want to minimize cost and hassle. Others are trying to forge a culture, to train and connect and lead.

Which kind of risk is okay with you? There’s financial risk, emotional risk and brand risk (among others). Are you willing to put your chips on the table daily? How about your personal reputation?

And finally, and most important, why? Why are you doing this at all?

If you want to be a successful entrepreneur or small business owner, you need to move faster, work smarter and latch on to people that can help you figure out what you should be doing next. Seth Godin is definitely one of those people.